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Social ecology

From Academic Kids

Social Ecology is, in the words of its leading exponents, "a coherent radical critique of current social, political, and anti-ecological trends" as well as "a reconstructive, ecological, communitarian, and ethical approach to society". Social Ecology is a radical view of scientific ecology and of social/political systems, e.g. those within which Green Parties operate.

Social Ecologists believe that the current ecological crisis is the product of capitalism. They believe it is not the number of people, but the way people relate to one another that has fueled the current economic crisis. Over-consumption, productivism and consumerism are thus symptoms, not causes, of a deeper issue with ethical relationships.

Social Ecology and Anarchism

Undoubtedly Social Ecology is the most influential current in the eco-anarchist thread within anarchism. Social Ecology is associated with the ideas and works of Murray Bookchin, who has been writing on ecological matters since the 1950s and, from the 1960s, has combined these issues with revolutionary social anarchism. His works include Post-Scarcity Anarchism, Toward an Ecological Society, The Ecology of Freedom and a host of others.

Social Ecology locates the roots of the ecological crisis firmly in relations of domination between people. The domination of nature is seen as a product of domination within society, but this domination only reaches crisis proportions under capitalism. In the words of Murray Bookchin:

"The notion that man must dominate nature emerges directly from the domination of man by man But it was not until organic community relations dissolved into market relationships that the planet itself was reduced to a resource for exploitation. This centuries-long tendency finds its most exacerbating development in modern capitalism. Owing to its inherently competitive nature, bourgeois society not only pits humans against each other, it also pits the mass of humanity against the nature world. Just as men are converted into commodities, so every aspect of nature is converted into a commodity, a resource to be manufactured and merchandised wantonly." (Op. Cit., p. 63)
"The plundering of the human spirit by the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by capital." (Ibid., p. 65)

Therefore social ecologists consider it essential to attack hierarchy and capitalism, not civilisation as such as the root cause of ecological problems. In the words of Murray Bookchin:

"Deep Ecology's problems stem from an authoritarian streak in a crude biologism that uses 'natural law' to conceal an ever-diminishing sense of humanity and papers over a profound ignorance of social reality by ignoring the fact it is capitalism we are talking about, not an abstraction called 'Humanity' and 'Society.'" (The Philosophy of Social Ecology, p. 160)

See Also

contrast with Deep Ecology, Ecofeminism, Gaia philosophy, Greens, Primitivism

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